Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil
An interview with one of America's most respected news programs, 60 Minutes, on CBS (not to be confused with the cheap fake propaganda on Russian television) lasted 20 minutes. The former vice president mentioned Russia three times. For the first time, when asked about the main international threats to the United States, Joe Biden answered with one sentence:
- I think that now the main threat to us and our allies, from the point of view of security, is Russia.
The second time Russia was mentioned in connection with another hacker scandal. The computer of Joe Biden's son Hunter was hacked. The story that the American intelligence agencies warned that the Russians would spread disinformation through Giuliani has been given an entire paragraph.
All other topics were purely internal.
"For both Biden and Trump, an appeal to foreign policy, especially to Russia, is a tool. We really want to exaggerate the Russian factor for the American elections, for America. This is not entirely true. This is mistake. I would like to show that Russia is a great power, they paid attention to us. The fact that they say that Russia influences the elections, forgive me, it doesn’t a damn thing, but we really want it to be able to show, to make excuses”, - Aleksey Malashenko believes.
Russia and China
In an interview, Joe Biden called China America's main competitor. The presidential candidate expressed himself more restrainedly than the current president. For Biden, this is competition, not war, although he also suggested that competition could escalate into power confrontation. Despite the harsh rhetoric, competition is the clearing where you can negotiate, says Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor Alexey Malashenko.
- Biden, Nixon, Kennedy, Trump - they will agree perfectly, because the competition is built on agreements. This is a very long, painful process, and we can see it. There are no problems here. China is not an enemy, China is a competitor.
China is perceived as rather a strategic, long-term, economic, technological and, in a sense, a geopolitical threat, while Russia is perceived as an immediate, situational threat. Russia interferes in American domestic politics, supports such regimes in the third world as Assad in Syria.
“At the same time, the United States proceeds from the fact that Russia is a country in a state of long-term decline, therefore, it does not pull at the level of China as its main competitor”, - said Andrey Kortunov, a political scientist, director of the Russian Council on International Affairs.
Director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States at Moscow State University M.V. Lomonosov Yuri Rogulyov believes that the American political elite wrote off Russia from the account back in the 90s:
- They do not consider it an equal partner, nor do they consider it necessary to adjust their policy depending on the opinion of Russia. They are of little interest in Russia's opinion. And accordingly, all negotiations with Russia are conducted from a position of strength.
The list of priorities for the current election campaign has been defined rather rigidly. Alexey Malashenko sees it like this:
- For US presidential candidates, the first is domestic politics, the second is domestic politics, the third is China, and the fourth is the Muslim world. Fifth - Russia. No matter how offensive it is for the Kremlin.
President Trump views China as America's main enemy, while Joe Biden describes his engagement with the Middle Kingdom in a much more restrained tone. If the United States and China are seen by political scientists as Siamese twins, who cannot part ways, but it is difficult for them to live together, their opinions about Russia diverged. Some argue that Russia is an enemy for both of them.
- As for Russia, for both Biden and Trump, Russia with our propaganda, part of which is published, is a reason for the consolidation of the nation in front of the enemy. The most convenient thing for them is to see an enemy in Russia. By the way, for Putin it is also very convenient to see the enemy in America, because then America is a superpower, and we are a superpower, although this is not entirely true, notes Malashenko.
If Biden is President…
Russian political analysts always say that Russia has historically better relations with Republican presidents than with Democrats.
"History suggests that Russia has always found it easier with the Republicans. Nixon - Brezhnev, Gorbachev - Reagan, in a sense, Putin and Bush Jr. It happened so historically, but in principle, it is impossible to say that the Democrats have always been more anti-Russian or anti-Soviet than the Republicans. Much depended on a particular leader, but they have different priorities, different ideological attitudes. But on this basis, I would not conclude that democrats are worse for us in all respects at all stages", - Andrey Kortunov notes.
Regardless of which party the president belonged to, all relations with Russia in the past ten years have been built on a legislative basis. All sanctions were passed by Congress and the Senate.
"Previously, the imposition of sanctions was the prerogative of the executive branch. It was a flexible tool. It meant that the president, as the head of the government, can introduce sanctions today and cancel them tomorrow. But, if you have a law, in order to lift the sanctions, you need to change the law. This is a very complicated procedure", - says Yuri Rogulyov.
At one time, the Jackson-Vanik amendments on restrictions on trade with the USSR were adopted. These amendments survived how many presidents, moreover, after the collapse of the USSR, four presidents in a row tried to cancel these amendments, and they did not succeed. The amendment was canceled only under President Obama, and on condition: either we accept the Magnitsky law and then we cancel the Jackson-Vanik amendment, or you get nothing.
It is clear that Biden will pay significantly more attention than Trump to human rights issues. Different steps are possible here, including sanctions. Therefore, the Republicans are more beneficial to the Russian authorities.
-. They do not meddle in democracy, they do not want to spend money on it. What Russia is, let it run like that. And the democrats are both more principled and somewhat more stupid. It is stupid in the sense that it is useless to engage in democracy in Russia, - says Alexey Malashenko.
It is obvious that Biden will more actively and more consistently support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, since Biden was engaged in Ukraine, he has interests there, he is personally connected with it. Much will change here, says Andrey Kortunov.
The big question for Russia is whether Joe Biden will really increase US sanctions against Russia. Experts play various scenarios. Let's say the new US administration wants to ban the import of Russian oil. But then this will lead to even greater destabilization of the global energy market. Russia's withdrawal from SWIFT will lead to changes in financial markets.
"I think that with the arrival of Biden, the pressure on Russia's European partners will increase. But we need to look more broadly than the problem of the Nord Stream alone. This is the problem of LNG, liquefied gas. In any case, be it Biden, Trump or Allah himself, Russia's role will be diminishing. See what a nightmare is happening to all streams in Turkey. This is a trend, it will definitely fall, again not because of who comes to power in the White House. It's also about economics. The role of the gas factor will decrease. This process can be pushed, and Biden will push", - Alexey Malashenko is sure.
President Trump has severely weakened ties with European allies. Europe is offended by the Americans. Biden is a much more experienced politician, and has a fundamentally different attitude towards Europe.
- I think Biden's task will be to try to create a united anti-Russian front of Europe and North America. Here, perhaps, he will even make some concessions to the Europeans - it will not be so harsh, boorishly, to demand that the Nord Stream 2 project be abandoned, but the project itself will try to stop. They will try to do it more gracefully.
But, perhaps, there will be positive shifts. For example, Biden is likely to be more attentive and more positive about arms control, including bilateral arms control mechanisms. Perhaps Biden will somewhat soften his policy towards Iran, which is also in Russia's interests.
Biden, Trump, Putin
Observers reflect not only on the future US foreign policy towards Russia, but also on how relations will develop between its main conductors - the presidents of the countries. Despite sanctions, hacker attacks, Syria and other troubles, American President Donald Trump has always shown his sympathy for the Russian leader.
- Trump does not talk about sympathy for Putin, he says that he and Putin have a great relationship. But he and Kim Jong Un have a great relationship. He has a great relationship with everyone. But sometimes very different things are put into this concept. He means that he can call Putin, talk that they have no barrier that would prevent them from discussing something. And Trump is impressed by the fact that the world recognizes him as an influential politician, they do not talk about him the nasty things that he hears at home, - says Yuri Rogulyov.
There can be no closeness between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, Andrei Kortunov believes. The Democratic candidate more than shares Barack Obama's attitude towards Putin. On the one hand, Joe Biden has nothing to lose, nevertheless, 50 years of his career in Washington has an impact on:
- And Biden, I think he has nothing to lose, I don't think he will hide his personal attitude. Although he is an experienced person, he spent fifty years in Washington making a career, expect from him the obvious rudeness that Trump has towards not Putin, but other leaders, I think that he will restrain himself and not show his fundamental rejection of the Russian president, since he you still have to deal with the Kremlin. I think that his experience will make him restrained.
In the same interview, presidential candidate Joe Biden answered questions about his vice president, California Senator Camila Harris, who is running with Biden for the White House. A question about the age of the candidate could not but be asked. Biden is 78 years old, if he wins the race, he will become the oldest American president. Who will be in power if something happens to him, the correspondent asks Biden. Then Camila will become president, Joe Biden answers her.